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All you need to know for the best holiday in Thailand

Whether you experience the heady scent of jasmine in a glittering temple, listen to the waves gently lapping onto a pristine beach, take a raucous tuk-tuk journey through the streets of Asia’s most exciting capital, or sample exquisitely spiced cuisine, you’ll understand why a holiday to Thailand is so popular.

Things to do in Thailand (outside of Bangkok)

Kanchanaburi: World War II history

Chiang Mai: sparkling temples and misty mountains

Ayutthaya: UNESCO-listed heritage

Sukhothai: ancient capital

Phuket: Thailand’s largest island

Krabi: Pretty islands and beach resorts

Ko Phangan: Full moon parties

Phuket Holidays vs. Koh Samui Holidays - Which is better?

It’s the eternal question for travellers looking to plan their perfect Thailand vacay, and it can be a tough choice given the similarities between the islands

Both are tropical paradises in their own right offering pristine sandy beaches flanked by crystalline turquoise water. You’ll also find authentically zingy Thai food, ample drinking venues, and temples, along with other cultural delights -- all coupled with that world-famous hospitality -- on both islands. Both islands are also popular choices for families and there’s no shortage of upscale resorts and sumptuous spa refuges on either island. So, which one to choose?

Generally speaking, those who are looking for all of the above plus a buzzing nightlife and a plethora of shopping opportunities tend to veer towards Phuket, whereas those who want a more chilled- out beach holiday opt for Koh Samui. Having said that, it should be noted that Koh Samui is also the springboard for Koh Phangan island -- the most notorious party destination in all of Southeast Asia -- with regular ferries running in-between that take just 45 minutes.

The most discernible difference between the two is that whilst you will find high-rise buildings on the beaches of Phuket, on Koh Samui no building can be taller than a coconut tree. Phuket is almost double the size of Koh Samui, and is thus busier, but there are secluded beaches to be found as well.

Ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference, and if you have more than 7 days booked we would totally recommend spending some time on both islands. There are direct flights in-between the islands and they only take 55 minutes! Nevertheless, in an attempt to aid our fellow pirates with this tricky decision we’ve listed some quick facts below.

Phuket: Key info

  • Can be reached by air, sea or land (as it’s connected to the mainland)

  • Approx. 14h flight time from UK

  • 1h 20m flight time from Bangkok

  • High season is November to February

  • Rainy season is May to October

  • Approx. 40 beaches in total

  • Many large beach resorts

  • Famous for its bars and nightclubs

  • Few restaurants or bars on the beach

  • An abundance of shopping malls

  • Many activities and tours on offer

  • Popular island-hopping destinations include Koh Phi Phi, James Bond Island, Koh Lanta, Similan Islands, Koh Samui

Koh Samui: Key info

  • Can be reached by air or sea

  • Approx. 14h flight time from UK

  • 1h 10m flight time from Bangkok

  • High season is December to March

  • Rainy season is October to November

  • Approx. 40 beaches in total

  • Mid-sized / small resorts

  • Famous for some of the best snorkelling spots on the planet

  • Many restaurants and bars on the beach

  • More markets and street vendors than shopping malls

  • Few activities and tours of offer

  • Popular island-hopping destinations include Koh Phangan and Koh Tao

When is the best time for a holiday in Thailand?

Thailand has a tropical climate with three distinct seasons. The hot season lasts from March to May. This can be an extremely uncomfortable time of year to visit for those not used to the heat. The stifling weather finally gives way to rain with the onset of the monsoon season, which lasts from June to October. If you like dramatic weather conditions, tropical thunderstorms, and massive amounts of precipitation, take your trip during this time. Otherwise, visit during peak season between November and February.

Is Thailand a good destination for a beach holiday?

No holiday to Thailand is complete without a stay on one of the country’s incredible beaches. From busy Phuket with its wide expanse of beaches to the more peaceful island of Koh Lanta, Thailand offers a selection of beaches just waiting to be explored on a beach holiday. The rugged Andaman coastline to the west is home to national parks and coconut plantations while the Gulf of Thailand offers stunning coral reefs and tranquil islands.

Experience Thailand’s towns and cities

Sip beer on Bangkok's Khao San Road, experience fantastic street food at one of the capital’s night markets, or haggle for handicrafts at the Chatuchak market. The nation’s capital is a place that never sleeps. But don’t forget that it’s not the whole of Thailand. Stroll around the more tranquil old town of the northern capital Chiang Mai, explore waterfalls and canyons from the northern hippie haven of Pai, or head south for verdant green hills and the freshest of air in Nakhon Ratchasima province’s Wang Nam Khiao district.

Things to remember

Stay in Thailand for any length of time and you will feel HOT! Take sunscreen, sunglasses, and, of course, some mosquito repellent. You’re going to need them. You may even choose to travel with a mosquito net as dengue fever and a number of other mosquito-borne diseases are still rife in Thailand. If you want to visit temples and other places of interest, remember to be respectful. Cover your shoulders and knees and try to look presentable. The Thai people will thank you for it.